Will non-essential travel invalidate my vehicle insurance?

04 May, 2020

News stories have been circulating recently suggesting that drivers who take unnecessary journeys during lockdown could invalidate their vehicle insurance.

We looked at the rules and spoke with our insurance partners about this, and found these claims to be not true.

What are the rules around essential and non-essential travel?

The government guidance on travel is that people should only be leaving home for specific purposes:

  • To shop for necessities, including medicine, as infrequently as possible
  • For take one form of exercise a day
  • For any medical need, including to donate blood, escape risk of harm, or provide care for a vulnerable person
  • To travel to work when they cannot work from home

There is some further advice for individuals or households who are isolating, for the vulnerable who need shielding, and for critical workers.

One of the rules people have been unsure of is whether they can travel to a place for exercise – the National Police Chief’s Council has now issued advice[1] on this. Driving to the countryside to go walking, where more time is spent walking than driving, is considered likely to be reasonable.

Can I invalidate my vehicle insurance if I make a journey that doesn’t meet the criteria for ‘essential travel’?

As long as you’re driving within the law and the terms of your policy, no you can’t. If you are driving within the terms of your policy and need to make a legitimate claim, your claim should be processed as it normally would be.

We asked some of our insurance partners to confirm the facts.

“Your car insurance won’t become invalid just because a journey you make is deemed inessential,” said Ben Tilson at KGM. “Provided you are driving legally and within the terms of your policy, there is no reason for a legitimate claim to be thrown out just on the basis of your journey being non-essential.

“That being said, we would encourage drivers to stick to the government’s guidelines and only travel for essential purposes during this period of lockdown.”

What happens if I have to make a claim and my journey was deemed to be inessential?

Provided you have been driving within the law and haven’t broken any of your policy terms – for example, using a vehicle for other business use it isn’t registered for, or driving a customer’s car for pleasure use – this should not affect your claim.

For motor traders, this is relevant to both their motor trade insurance and personal vehicle insurance.

What if I’m stopped while driving?

The police are able to stop drivers and to enforce the current lockdown rules. If you get stopped, you should explain the purpose of your journey. In most instances, the police will encourage you to go home if they don’t consider there to be a ‘reasonable excuse’ for your journey[2]. Fines can be issued where people fail to comply with the social restrictions in place[3]; these are usually fixed penalty notices at £60, or £30 if paid within 14 days.

Do I still need to update the MID during lockdown?

If you have vehicles in your possession to be sold or that belong to a customer, you have to register them on the MID within 14 days of them coming into your possession. If you don’t, those vehicles will not be insured on your motor trade policy and you could be fined. These rules are still in place during lockdown, so make sure any vehicles you have are properly covered to protect yourself from possible fines.

Read more about coronavirus and traders insurance with our FAQs here.


[1] This advice is for England only; different rules and guidelines may apply in other parts of the United Kingdom.

[2] BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52106843

[3] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/regulation/10/made